Challenge Check-In February

Challenge Check-In – February 2023

In 2023 I’m starting a new monthly feature, Challenge Check-In which is kind of like a Monthly Wrap Up, but not quite. I will focus on my progress regarding my reading goals (check out THIS post), and will also offer 5-5 recommendations for 2 The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts each month. It’s never too late to join if it catches your interest!

Man, I can’t believe it’s already the end of February. Where the fuck did the month go?! I didn’t even have enough fun for my birthday month and now I feel cheated by myself. Rude. At least I had the grace to do some reading.

So, here comes my Challenge Check-In for February 2023.

The Month in Reading

February 2023

For February 2023 my hand spreadsheet had 3 ebooks and 2 audiobooks planned, although one was brought over from January. Once again, find myself a bit behind as I’m still reading one of the ebooks, but managed to read the rest I planned. And all were on my self-imposed TBR!

Before I get to what I read this month, here are some reviews for books I finished in January, but reviewed in February:

Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

Empire's Daughter by Marian L. Thorpe

TitleEmpire’s Daughter
Author: Marian L Thorpe
Series: Empire’s Legacy #1
Publisher: Arboretum Press
Release Date: February 18, 2015
Format: ebook
Status: Read
Rating: 3*

Empire’s Daughter came highly recommended by friends and although I didn’t love I can see why they did.

I’m going to say that Empire’s Daughter is a debut novel that gives much food for thought. It’s not exactly what I expected and I might not have been the right audience, but I can see the intent behind it, and I’m curious how much Thorpe grew as an author over the years. Empire’s Daughter has a different approach to historical fiction, showing a different side of what a reader might be used to, and is not afraid to slow the space to make sure we get a clear – although maybe over-detailed – picture of what is going on. If that sounds like your jam, you most likely will have a good time getting immersed in it!

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Title: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Series: standalone
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Format: audiobook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: 5*

I really enjoyed this cozy Fantasy Romance novel. It hit all the right notes for me and the narrator was also great. My review is coming very soon.

The King Must Fall by Grimdark Magazine

Title: The King Must Fall
Author: Adrian Collins (ed.)
Series: standalone
Publisher: Grimdark Magazine
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Format: ebook / audiobook
Status: Read / RTC
Rating: TBA

Although I don’t really read Grimdark anymore, I couldn’t say no to reading this anthology. My review will be coming soon.

We Dream of Gods by Devin Madson

Title: We Dream of Gods
Author: Devin Madson
Series: Reborn Empire #4
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: March 23, 2023
Format: ebook
Status: Currently reading
Rating: TBA

Since I fell behind in January and didn’t manage to catch up quite yet, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit for my review. Definitely coming before its release (March 23, 2023), though.

Womble's TBR Reduction

The prompt for February was “short steps”. Since February is the shortest month of the year, we were required to read 28 short stories. This seemed like the perfect time to dive into The King Must Fall anthology by Grimdark Magazine as I promised a review to Adrian Collins. It only has 19 short stories and novellas, but we are not going to look at the details, are we?

The Sound of Madness

I made some (more than it looks, but I only add books when I’m done reviewing them, so March will be better) progress with my reading challenge in February and filled some prompts with the following titles:

Here is what my card looks like right now:

The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge progress February 2023

And as promised, I’m going to give you some recs for the first two prompts on this lovely card.

Bulletproof Skin

A character with superpowers would fit this prompt – not necessarily being bulletproof, anything goes. Or a character who gets attacked and survives. I think a book about immortal characters would go as well.

To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl by Benedict Patrick

Title: To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl
Author: Benedict Patrick
Series: Yarnsworld #5 (can be read as a standalone, although I recommend reading Where The Waters Turn Black first)
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: November 16, 2020

Look, we all know I’m a Ben Patrick fangirl by now, so I’m never not going to recommend any of his books, especially the Yarnsworld ones. To Dream and Die as a Taniwha Girl is the 5th book but also can be read as a standalone (however, I’d recommend reading Where the Waters Turn Black to which this is a sequel, and also because that’s my favorite in the series). This book has gods and immortal creatures so that’s why I picked it.

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore

Title: Bloodsucking Fiends
Author: Christopher Moore
Series: Love Story #1
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
Release Date: September 1, 1995

I’ve read some of Christopher Moore‘s novels over the years, and enjoyed them to various degrees – my personal favorite is Lamb, though. I haven’t read this one, but since it’s about vampires who are pretty immortal – or at least hard to kill with a bullet, except if it’s made of silver – I thought it would fit this prompt. Plus, a bit of absurd humor is never amiss.

Chasing Graves by Ben Galley

Title: Chasing Graves
Author: Ben Galley
Series: The Chasing Graves Trilogy #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: December 5, 2018

Look, when you are dead, it’s pretty hard to die again by a bullet or otherwise. Although can we say ghosts have bulletproof skin when they don’t have skin at all anymore? Oh well. Either way, I’d say Chasing Graves fits the prompt IMO. Plus this is a fun Grimdark trilogy I enjoyed back in the day. Man, I can’t believe it’s been out for 4 years already. Damn.

Black Stone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher

Title: Black Stone Heart
Author: Michael R. Fletcher
Series: The Obsidian Path #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: March 29, 2020

My team’s SPFBO 6 finalist and definitely deserves a spot for this prompt. Not only is Khraen pretty hard to kill with his stone of a heart, but then he also has Henska as a companion – who happens to be a necromancer and pretty much dead herself.

Rise of Gods by Dyrk Ashton

Title: Rise of Gods
Author: Dyrk Ashton
Series: Paternus #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 1, 2016

One of my first thoughts for this prompt was the Paternus trilogy. It’s chock full of gods and all kinds of immortal beings. I’m sure you can find one that’s also bulletproof. You can never know with Dyrk…


I’m Still Here

I can imagine a book with a character with a defiant personality. Someone strong-headed, who says “you can throw whatever the fuck you want at me, but I’m still here and going to fuck you up”. Or something. But it can also be something more sentimental, as the song is about a son who wants to prove his worth to his father, waiting for his return, saying “I’m still here, waiting for you”, so a book with a theme along those lines would work as well. Maybe a character who waits for a loved one’s return, a theme of loss and grief. Definitely a lot of potential.

We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

Title: We Ride the Storm
Author: Devin Madson
Series: Reborn Empire #1
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: June 23, 2020

Any of the main characters (and most of the side ones) of the Reborn Empire series would qualify We Ride the Storm (or the other books in the series) for this prompt. They are all fierce and survived more than would be healthy. And yet, here they are still, fighting for their dreams.

We Are the Dead by Mike Shackle

Title: We are the Dead
Author: Mike Shackle
Series: The Last War #1
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: August 8, 2019

As with the Reborn Empire series, any of The Last War books would fit the prompt. Tinnstra, Jax, Darius, Dren, Yas, and many more are the kind of characters that weather all the shit being thrown at them by the war and are still standing. More or less.

The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd

Title: The Arctic Curry Club
Author: Dani Redd
Series: standalone
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: December 9, 2021

Something a bit different, but still fits the prompt. The Arctic Curry Club is a contemporary fiction novel with a bit of a romance, but that’s not the main focus. This story is about Maya, whose life turns upside down when she moves to the Arctic. Through food, she reconnects with her late mother. She grieves in her own way, and despite her struggles, she stays strong.

The Hungry Dreaming by Craig Schaefer

Title: The Hungry Dreaming
Author: Craig Schaefer
Series: standalone, Ghosts of Gotham #3
Publisher: Demimonde Books
Release Date: February 22, 2022

I chose this book because of Seelie and Tyler. Seelie wants her father’s acceptance of who she is, although there isn’t much chance to get it. And Tyler lives with survivor’s guilt, grieving for his family, stuck in the past while life is getting by him.

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Title: The Happy Ever Playlist
Author: Abby Jimenez
Series: standalone, The Friend Zone #2
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: April 14, 2020

I wanted to include on this list something more fluffy, so I’m adding this contemporary romance novel (which I absolutely loved), in which Sloan is still grieving for her fiance, surrounded by his stuff, unable to get rid of them, like she is still waiting for him to come home. An unexpected encounter with a friendly dog, however, shows her a way out of the funk she’d fallen in.

And that concludes my Challenge Check-In for February 2023. On the whole, I did pretty well, and hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it up. Let me know how you progressed with either my challenges or the ones you set for yourself!

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